“I Feel Imprisoned in Nicaragua,” says HR Defender Vilma Nuñez

Vilma Nuñez

The head of Cenidh did not rule out that she could be arrested at any time, especially if she tries to leave the country. Cenidh’s legal status was cancelled by the National Assembly, with a Sandinista majority and at the request of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

By EFE / 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES – “I feel imprisoned inside Nicaragua,” veteran human rights defender Vilma Núñez said in an interview with EFE at Monday’s commemoration of the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders.

“I honestly, feel imprisoned within Nicaragua, but I will not help the government have the pleasure of silencing this voice that still remains within Nicaragua,” Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), said in an audio interview for security reasons.

The head of Cenidh did not rule out that she could be arrested at any time, especially if she tries to leave the country. Cenidh’s legal status was cancelled by the National Assembly, with a Sandinista majority and at the request of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

Nuñez, the 2021 winner of the International Human Rights Award of the Association for Human Rights of Spain, noted that women human rights defenders are at greater risk than men.

“The risk is greater in all spaces, because of discrimination, exclusion, and the machismo imposed by the patriarchal system. This conditions our actions, puts more obstacles in our way, and imposes more risks,” she explained.

“Gender violence is one of the strongest afflictions that exists in humanity,” continued Núñez, who suffered from this since childhood for being born out of wedlock in a conservative town in central Nicaragua, although she did not understand this until she dedicated herself to defending peoples’ rights.

Defending Rights in an Authoritarian Country

“The defense of human rights is determined by the context. It is not the same to defend human rights in a democratic country as it is in an authoritarian country or a dictatorship like the one we have (in Nicaragua). It is much more difficult,” she said.

“And it is not the same to do it in a city where you have access to the courts and the media as it is in the countryside where there is nowhere to denounce what is happening. You are even more exposed,” she added.

For this reason Núñez, who noted that the difference between a human rights defender and a politician is that the former does not aspire to power, considers the 14 women political prisoners of Nicaragua, including former guerrilla fighter Dora María Téllez and several opposition leaders, human rights defenders. “For me, political prisoners are all human rights defenders, even if they do not have the title,” she said.

Among the women deprived of liberty and accused of treason and other crimes are human rights defender María Oviedo, as well as, independent, Cristiana Chamorro, and opposition leaders Violeta Granera, Ana Margarita Vijil, Tamara Dávila and Suyen Barahona.

Núñez, a survivor of the “July 23 Massacre” of 1959, in which the defunct National Guard killed four university students during an anti-government protest, said that staying alive and denouncing are now the greatest challenges of defending human rights in Nicaragua.

“Here in Nicaragua the principal challenge is to continue living and to not allow them to take away our voice. The regime has not managed to silence me,” she stressed.

Confronted by power

Núñez said that defending human rights “is a very difficult thing, it is practically being juxtaposed to power.”

“We must assume the risks that make us opponents. But we are not political opponents. We are opponents because governments are the main violators of human rights,” she said.

“But the problems of defending human rights do not always come from governments,” she said.

Núñez noted that the struggle for human rights in Nicaragua has found support in organizations led by women, such as the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), headed by Michelle Bachelet, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), still under the presidency of Antonia Urrejola.

She affirmed that in Nicaragua “the main challenge is how to create the conditions to end the dictatorship so that things can change and human rights be restored.”

Read more from Nicaragua here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *